Illustration Station, Inspiration Island, Kidlit County

The Main Event: The 2013 SCBWI Winter Conference

This past weekend was the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. It not only marks the one year anniversary of my little blog, but is also one year since all of this book industry madness began for me!

Tomie dePaola honors this year's Tomie dePaola Award recipients. Who knew author/illustrator of one of my favorite children's books (Strega Nona) was so sassy!

Tomie dePaola honors this year’s Tomie dePaola Award recipients. Who knew the author/illustrator of one of my favorite children’s books (Strega Nona) was so sassy!

When I saw the conference schedule was only Saturday and Sunday (aside from optional intensives on Friday), I winced. Why so short?! Then I realized that it had been the same way last year, and, by the time I had made it to lunch on Saturday, I remembered just how compact and dense the little weekend was. Though I couldn’t possibly talk about everything that happened (especially since I need to get back to work), I will share my favorite highlights (for more specifics, you can check out the conference blog!).

Our opening speaker was the delightfully snarky Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now). Her speech was entitled “So When Are You Going to Write a Real Book, You Know, For Adults?” It was brilliant. She is brilliant. And her point was that books written for youth are just as important and hard to make as books written for adults. Meg eloquently told non-believers to sit-n-spin while inspiring an audience of children’s book and YA writers to be proud of their creations, and to go bravely forward against the naysayers with heads held high and middle fingers drawn because we are indeed necessary. She wins the Mike Curato Badass Award. (Ooo, maybe I should make that award a regualr thing on my blog! thoughts?) Continue reading

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Illustration Station, Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!

I have officially accepted an offer from Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (a subsidiary of Macmillan) for a 3 book deal starring our favorite polka-dotted elephant, Elly!!! The first book is slated for release in Fall 2014.

These have been some of the most surreal days of my life. I really don’t know what to say. A big thanks to Brenda Bowen for being the most amazing agent ever. In such a short period of time, I feel we have grown very close, and I have learned so much from her. Thank you to my Mom for putting me in art class when I was 4 years old, and to Dad for supporting me through college. Thanks to Dan for all of the love, support, and patience over this long journey. Thanks to all of the art teachers I’ve ever had, most notably Laura Nicholls, Charlene Margiotta, Tonya Mulligan, John ThompsonYvonne Buchanan, and Roger DeMuth. Thanks to my art friends for always being with me in my studio in spirit, cheering me on: Julia Cocuzza, Mike Lewis, Cathy Robustelli, Merve Ozal Atasagun, Beth Page, Chiara Bajiardi, Emilie Combs, Erick LedesmaDave Cole, Vanessa LauriaSarah Jane Lapp and Mark Kaufman. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.

Also, a huge thanks to Laura Godwin, Rebecca Hahn, and everyone else at Holt, who believe in Elly and who are committed to sharing his stories with the world. I cannot wait to start working together!

To read the official press release, click here and scroll all the way to the bottom.

You may wonder how I am feeling. You can combine any of these descriptors, and you’d be correct: giddy, humbled, ecstatic, speechless, nauseous, invincible, dumbfounded, grateful, celebratory, nervous, shaky, high, flabbergasted. Add your own feelings to the list!!!

xoxo

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Illustration Station, Kidlit County

Old Family/New Family

Wednesday night, I flew into New York to meet with several literary agents that have been interested in representing me. I’ll get to the exciting news of my decision in a minute, so keep your shirt on.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, I surprised my parents, who were completely unaware of my trip. My sister picked up my brother and I, and (by the grace of God) brought us home to Nanuet. As she sped through Midtown, gleefully squeaking “weeee!”, I dug my claws into the door handle and reflected on my life’s highlights. I have experienced cab rides in New York, Rome, and Manila, and all pale in comparison to our get away ala Bourne Identity. Anyway, I love my sister, even though she’s given me a new-found appreciation for NJ Transit (*I am not from New Jersey. Nanuet is in New York towards the end of the NJ Transit line, thank you very much).

typical Curato Clan scene

We successfully shocked our Dad at home cooking crab legs in his pajama pants, as he is prone to do. Of course, of all the nights I drop in unannounced, our Mom was at a mandatory work meeting. So, the three of us went for pizza, and then surprised her upon exiting her meeting. It’s kinda funny watching my Mom shriek like that, although I do worry about giving her a heart attack. We went home and spent a few hours laughing about…something. My mother and sister have an infectious laugh. Once they get hooked on something, they can’t stop, and then everyone around them can’t stop because they keep going, getting redder and louder and teary until they’re gasping for air. Finally, my sister brought me back to my friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side. Thankfully, there were fewer cars with the potential to hit on the way back…

Kyle is unfazed by Mom's hysteria

I also got to see an all-star cast of friends on my trip, including Sarah Jane, who I recently blogged about. Several even managed to take me out to dinner and dancing Friday night, which is a rarity for me these days. I still got the moves…although I was feeling a little…not-in-my-twenties. Also, I can no longer drink like I’m in my twenties, so I left a little “early” at 2AM to pack, shower, and get some sleep before my flight.

OK! Onto the big news!

I met with four agents. They are all smart, passionate individuals who are devoted to some of the best talent in publishing. I did my homework before the trip and talked to children’s book artists/writers that each represent. They all had wonderful things to say. This was a bit disappointing, as I was hoping that at least one or two of them would be evil goons, and therefore make it an easy decision to cross them off the list. But no, they all proved to be lovely. One took me to lunch. One even lent me an umbrella for a day, which really came in handy.

However, I have to say that one just felt right in my gut, and as much as I would love to work with them all, I have decided to sign with Brenda Bowen of Sanford J Greenburger Associates. Brenda has over 30 years in the children’s book industry as an editor, a publisher, a writer and an agent. I am honored that she (and the other agents) see my potential, and I can’t wait to get started!

My new little friend. I think I will call her Wispy

On Friday, I met with Brenda at her office and talked for a while. Afterwards, she invited me to a monthly get-together of some of her artists at The Old Town Bar. OK illustration nerds, hold on to your seats! I got to have drinks and fried appetizers with Carin Berger (Forever Friends), Jessie Hartland (How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum), Naoko Stoop (whose first book, Red Knit Cap Girl, comes out this summer), and Chris Raschka (who just won his second Caldecott Award for A Ball for Daisy). We also had a little Valentine gift exchange. I received this beautiful piece by Carin Berger, pictured above.

It was a wonderful trip. I got to see my old family and meet my new one.

These are exciting times.

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